The Delhi L-G’s decision overturning the Delhi CM’s order that only Delhi residents can be admitted to private and state government hospitals for Covid-19 treatment cited a Delhi High Court judgment from 2018, which dealt with a similar issue.
The then Delhi HC Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao had quashed a circular issued by the Medical Director of GTB Hospital, where patients without Delhi voter IDs were categorised as non-Delhi residents and denied certain facilities.
As per the circular, non-residents were handed a blue OPD card. Such patients could not avail medicines from the pharmacy, were not provided facility of investigation, be it laboratory or radiology, and there were several classifications for non-resident patients with regard to indoor services and reservation of beds. This circular did not apply to patients with surgical emergency or distress injury, and MLC cases.
Chief Justice Menon held that the act of the Delhi government in “creating a class within a class i.e. within citizens identically situated is impermissible, and thereby further act of conferring benefit of medical facility to citizens on such classification is impermissible”.
The Delhi HC had held that the impugned circular “suffers from various vices which are not permissible under the Constitution. The circular classifies identically situated persons differently for the purpose of granting them medical facility without any rational basis.”
The Delhi HC held that Article 21 of the Constitution imposes a duty on the government to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure every citizen has free and fair access to health facilities and treatment in a public hospital.
Observing that “the State cannot avoid or shirk away from this Constitutional obligation on account of financial constraint or non-availability of facilities”, the HC said, “A State is obliged and mandated to provide all such facilities as are to be provided to a citizen… envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines